Opinion: Please, let it be some other 'Asian'

"All across America, no doubt, non-Korean Asian-Americans are now heaving a sigh of relief. “Asian,” after all, was the four-alarm-fire word we saw throughout the day after the shootings that took the lives of 33 people at Virginia Tech. The shooter was “Asian,” the news reports said. But who was this “Asian” exactly?

Before the news identified the killer as Cho Seung-hui, a 23-year-old English major from South Korea, all ethnic backgrounds were up for grabs. A friend from a small college town on the East Coast, who is Chinese, called to say: “Please, please let it be some other Asian. We’ll be in deep if it’s Chinese.”

In a popular Vietnamese chatroom, Vietnamese college students were writing to each other to speculate. One said, “I have a bad feeling. It might be Mi’t (Vietnamese slang for Vietnamese).” Others wrote in advising each other on what to do.

The blogosphere buzzed with speculation on the identity of the killer. The waiting game was as tense as waiting to find out who the next American Idol might be. On another blog, debbieschlussel.com, Schlussel speculated that the shooter could be a Muslim Pakistani. “Why am I speculating that the ‘Asian’ gunman is a Pakistani Muslim? Because law enforcement and the media strangely won’t tell us more specifically who the gunman is.”

A Muslim Pakistani friend, an engineer who refused to have his name mentioned, emailed me to say, “If he’s a Paki and Muslim, we might all just pack up and go home. I’m praying that he is some other Asian.”

Let it be some other Asian! This was the prayer among so many Asian-American communities. And not just Asians.

“Every time there’s an incident like this, every ethnic group is on pins and needles,” said Khalil Abdullah, an African-American colleague. An Anglo shooter may be an individual, a loner, but God forbid if a person of color goes on a shooting rampage. His whole tribe would be implicated. “I still recall my aunts when President Kennedy was assassinated. They were praying that it wasn’t a Negro.” Many ethnic communities do not feel that they belong to the core of the American fabric, Abdullah added. “The action of an individual can cancel out the good image of an entire group.”"

Get the Story:
Andrew Lam,: Let It Be Some Other 'Asian' (New America Media 4/17)

$rl Virginia Tech Shootings, Washington Post - http://blog.washingtonpost.com/virginia-tech-shootings